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Improvement in early years attainment welcomed

The Department for Education (DfE) has released figures on children’s development and school readiness, showing evidence of improvement, but an attainment gap that needs to close.

Figures show that 60 per cent of early years children are achieving a good level of development, up eight per cent from 52 per cent in 2013.

The overall 60 per cent of children aged 5 are making good progress against the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP). However, the gap between those from the most disadvantaged areas and their peers has remained static at 12 per cent.

PACEY today welcomes evidence of improvement in early years development rates, but warns much more needs to be done to raise this further and close attainment gap.

Commenting on the findings, Liz Bayram, PACEY's Chief Executive, said, "All children, especially our most disadvantaged young children, deserve high-quality, playful early learning and PACEY welcomes the Minister's recognition that early learning happens whilst children are having fun.

"We also welcome his acknowledgment that helping young children to develop essential social and emotional skills such as talking, listening to and playing with others is as important as understanding letters and numbers. Childcare professionals share his goal that more needs to be done to close the attainment gap for disadvantaged children.

"Year on year, Ofsted grades demonstrate the sector's capacity to continuously improve. We are looking forward to working with the DfE and other sector organisations to ensure all providers are supported to further improve. In particular, PACEY is keen to help set out how the 2-year-old offer and Early Years Pupil Premium can support settings to invest more in quality improvement, so all their practitioners are supported to focus on helping children reach their full potential."

The figures also indicate that in 110 local authorities the achievement gap has narrowed, but in the remaining 42 it has widened.

Liz adds, "It is good to see that in 110 local authorities, the achievement gap has narrowed, but it is of concern that in the remaining 42 it has widened. Local authorities have a key role to play in sharing good practice and providing support to settings that need to improve. More must be done to ensure more local authorities are prioritising early years and learning from their neighbouring authorities."